Five men, including the owner of a factory at Shapar village in Gujarat’s Rajkot district, have been arrested for allegedly murdering a 40-year-old Dalit man on Sunday morning, NDTV reported. The victim, identified as Mukesh Vaniya, was from Parnala village in Surendranagar district.
His wife Jayaben said they were out looking for work on Sunday when five men at the Shapar factory approached them and asked them to pick up garbage lying outside the unit.
“We refused to pick it up because they were not willing to pay us for it,” said Jayaben. “They told us that we are from a low caste, so this is our work.”
Jayaben said the men began to beat up the couple when they refused to work for free. “They misbehaved with me and touched my shoulder, and hit me,” she added.
When Mukesh Vaniya’s aunt Savitaben arrived and tried to intervene, they beat her up too. His younger brother Prakash said that the men then rounded up on Mukesh and assaulted him. The two women ran to the village and informed neighbours.
The assault allegedly lasted for more than two hours, and video footage shows Mukesh tied to a pole and being beaten with a curved metal rod by two men. By the time the owner of the hut the family lived in reached the spot with four companions, Mukesh had been seriously injured.
He was taken to a hospital in an ambulance, but died soon after.
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani claimed the incident was “far more gruesome” than when cow vigilantes assaulted four Dalit men for skinning a dead cow near Una town in Gir Somnath district in July 2016. “In Una, the victims were beaten up and humiliated. Whereas, here a man lost his life amidst caste violence,” Mevani said. “While, Mr Mukesh Vaniya belonging to a Scheduled Caste was assaulted and murdered by factory owners in Rajkot, his wife was brutally beaten up. The government of Gujarat has still not learned from its past mistakes.”
Deputy Superintendent of Police of Gondal DM Chauhan is investigating the case, the Ahmedabad Mirror reported. The police have already filed a murder case under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, said senior Rajkot police officer Shruti Mehta.